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Thursday, 27 March 2008 14:29

AMD puts four to the floor with Phenom X4 quad-core

Five AMD Phenom X4 ‘true’ quad-core processors have landed alongside the new X3 range – forever banishing single and dual-core technology to the bottom drawer?

Immediately available are “four new high-performance AMD Phenom X4 processors for PC users” which AMD classes as perfect for those “in search of the Ultimate Visual Experience” – although there is also a special fifth model that runs at a world’s first 65 watts.

Although AMD says there are only ‘four’ high performance Phenom X4 processors, they come in eight flavours, and a ninth if you include the 65-watter – with all naturally 64-bit capable.

There’s the 9500 and 9550 which run at 2.2GHz and 95 watts, the 9600 and 9600 ‘Black Edition’ which run at 2.3GHz and 95 watts.

Then there’s the 9750 which runs at 2.4GHz and comes in a 125 watt and 95 watt version, while the 9850 only comes in a ‘Black Edition model’ and runs the fastest at 2.5GHz and 125 watts.

AMD’s pricing page has the details, with the processors ranging in price from US $209 to US $235 in lots of 1000, as they are traditionally sold.

There’s also a fifth model called the AMD Phenom X4 9100e which runs at 65 watts – see page 3 more information.

Although the flagship of the X4 range is the new “9850 Black Edition processor”, each CPU features “true quad-core design”, with AMD saying that “when matched to AMD 790 series chipsets supports up to four award-winning ATI Radeon HD 3800 series graphics cards”.

AMD have codenamed this enthusiast PC platform as "Spider" and says that it “energizes the latest PC gaming titles, speeds high-definition video playback, and delivers amazing performance for advanced productivity and multi-tasking.”        

Please read onto page 2.

Mario Rivas, AMD’s executive veep of the computing solutions group enthused that: "These new AMD Phenom X4 processors unlock even greater visual computing performance to showcase the unparalleled scalability of the AMD enthusiast platform.”

Rivas continued: “Based on AMD's advanced true quad-core architecture, these processors are loaded with powerful performance features like next-generation HyperTransport 3.0 and energy-efficient innovations like Cool'n'Quiet 2.0 technology."

AMD’s ‘true’ quad-core processor technology has been a long time coming, with Intel able to offer two dual-core processors packaged together as a quad-core for some time now, leapfrogging AMD in sales and performance while the world waited for AMD to get their ‘true’ quad-core act together.

That said, it has finally arrived, with AMD choosing the week before Intel’s IDF (developer forum) to no doubt try and generate a maximum amount of PR and buzz before the IDF onslaught of new Intel announcements begins next week.

AMD say these are the “best quad-core desktop CPUs [it has] offered”, to improve performance for gaming and multi-threaded applications.

The top-of-the-line X4 9850 Black Edition also offers “Clock Multiplier Control” for “tuneable performance that gives gamers and enthusiasts scalability and customizable performance levels to run multiple processor-intensive applications simultaneously.”

HP’s director of marketing in the US, Thi La, has announced that HP will be quick to offer X3 and X4 based computers, saying that: "As the worldwide leader in the PC industry, HP is pleased to be offering our customers the choice of AMD Phenom X3 and X4 based systems in our consumer desktop PCs. We are seeing a strong market demand for increased performance and multi-core capabilities."

With quad-core set rapidly becoming the new standard for consumer level computing, whether from AMD or Intel, “as usage models expand to HD entertainment applications and gaming”, and believes its response “with innovations like the AMD Phenom X4 processor and the "Spider" quad-core enthusiast platform” enable it to command “both a high-performance and energy efficient market position at a compelling price.”  

Please read onto page 3 for details on the AMD Phenom X4 9100e quad-core processor, which AMD says is the world’s first to run at 65 watts.

AMD say the Phenom X4 9100e is “the world's first energy-efficient desktop quad-core processor” which provides “customers with a cool and quiet digital media workhorse.”

Although we’ll no doubt hear what Intel has to say at their IDF conference in Shanghai next week in response, AMD say the 9100e enables “digital media enthusiasts and performance-hungry users [to] experience the powerful computing capabilities of a true multi-core architecture with a processor operating at a maximum of 65-watts.”

Rather than working with AMD’s 790 chipset, as AMD recommends for the other X4 processors, AMD ssays the 9100e is designed to work with the AMD 780 chipset, the same one they recommend for use with the triple-core Phenom X3’s.

AMD touts the benefits as offering an “efficient PC platform that plays Blu-ray movies and delivers a rich computing experience for casual gamers and multimedia enthusiasts”, while giving “consumers extensive multi-tasking capabilities like creating digital content while checking and writing e-mails and simultaneously downloading music files off the Web”, making the 9100e and 780 combination “ideal for consumers and business customers looking for cool, quiet, energy-efficient PCs.”

AMD says the Phenom X4 9100e processor embodies “a series of AMD energy-efficient innovations”, including:

- Cool'n'Quiet 2.0 technology, the next generation of AMD's award-winning power saving technology;
- AMD CoolCore technology, which helps users achieve more efficient performance by dynamically activating or turning off parts of the processor as needed;
- Independent Dynamic Core Technology, which allows a fully independent frequency control per processor core that can reduce processor energy consumption by adjusting power usage according to core utilization;
- Dual Dynamic Power Management, which enables a split power plane design, allowing independent voltage planes for processor and memory controller for greater control over performance based on system demands;
 - AMD Wideband Frequency Control, for simplified performance state transitions to help reduce power consumption, latency and software overhead of performance states changes; and
- Multi-Point Thermal Control, multiple sensors across processor silicon designed to reduce speed and heat when temperature exceeds pre-defined limits.

For more AMD commentary on the 9100e X4, and the curiously missing price details, please read onto page 4.

Greg White, AMD’s corporate veep and general manager of the desktop and embedded division, says that: “By infusing energy-conscious design into everything related to AMD - facilities, products and alliances - AMD has emerged as a leader in establishing eco-friendly practices. The AMD Phenom X4 9100e processor is our latest endeavor to help customers reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.”

White continued that: “Energy-efficient processors from AMD not only enable differentiated solutions but are extremely conducive to smaller and sleeker form factors like Home Theater PCs that take up less space and operate quietly. PCs such as this can also help reduce energy consumption and the associated environmental impacts of traditional PC form factors."

Jim McGregor, research director and principal analyst, In-Stat said that: "Consumers and businesses alike are requesting smaller, more elegant PCs that aesthetically complement home and office environments, offer lower noise for a better computing experience, and deliver the same performance of larger systems”.

McGregor continued that: “Energy efficient desktop processors like the AMD Phenom X4 9100e offer greater performance-per-watt over traditional desktop CPUs while addressing the growing concerns of end-users for more energy efficient and eco-friendly products."

AMD says the 9100e is “expected to be available from leading OEMs and System Builders” without specifying any further time frames.

Although AMD say that pricing details are available at its website, no prices for the 9100e are yet listed.

Given the aforementioned timing of AMD’s announcements, we can be certain Intel will unleash some spectacular fireworks in response at the Shanghai IDF, which we’ll bring to you next week.

How quickly dual-core technology will be superseded by triple and quad core technology is yet to be seen, although given Intel has announced work on a six-core processor, dual-core will soon go out the door as consumers demand more, more, more and more - cores!

As the English would say... cor blimey!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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